Clairaut, Alexis Claude

Clairaut, Alexis Claude

Clairaut, Alexis Claude (älĕksĕsˈ klōd klĕrōˈ), 1713–65, French mathematician. He assisted P. L. M. de Maupertuis in measuring (1736) a degree of an arc of a meridian in Lapland. He is noted for his work on differential equations and on curves and for formulating Clairaut's theorem dealing with geodesic lines on the surface of an ellipsoid.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Clairaut, Alexis Claude


Born May 7, 1713, in Paris; died there May 17, 1765. French mathematician and astronomer.

Clairaut exhibited his mathematical gifts in childhood and at the age of 18 was made an adjunct of the Paris Academy of Sciences. In mathematical analysis he introduced the concepts of line integral, total differential of a function of several independent variables, and general and singular solutions of first-order differential equations. He also developed a new theory of the motion of the moon (1751) and conducted studies of the earth’s shape, proving a number of fundamental theorems in advanced geodesy. On the basis of his study of the motion of Halley’s Comet in 1759, he determined the time of its next passage through perihelion (the error was only about one month). In mechanics he created a dynamic theory of relative motion (1742). In 1754, Clairaut was elected an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.


In Russian translation:
Teoriia figury Zemli, osnovannaia na nachalakh gidrostatiki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.


Brunet, P. La Vie et l’oeuvre de Clairaut. Paris, 1952.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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